Civilizations VRodney 9 comments
Most PC gamers will be aware that one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2010 was the latest edition to the Civilizations saga - the game where each new release is judged by its millions of fans on how faithful it is to the original game, from over a decade ago.
In this respect, Civilizations V should be well received, as the game is indeed faithful to the original game.
Civilizations V is the only game I have ever bought on release date - ever. I don't really know why I did this: I'm not that huge a fan. I just saw it on Steam and went "what the hell - I liked the others".
A brief summary of the genre
Civilizations is largely a genre all of it's own. The game is about as far from fast paced as you can get - hours can go by with virtually nothing happening and even a "short" game will take days. It's the computer game equivalent of test cricket. Essentially, you play as a nation, starting off in the prehistoric era, of sticks and stones and working your way up to future era, with advanced fighters, bombers and nuclear weapons. This happens in pretty much real time (ok, obviously not really but it can feel like it, sometimes).
The game is turn based and is effectively a massive and complex chess board. You compete with other nations for resources and try to defeat the other players by better financing, educating and arming your society.
Amazingly, given the above, the game has always been extremely fun.
About Civ V specifically
Civilizations V has had a fair amount of hype leading up to it. Literally millions of people will buy or already have bought this game and will dearly love it. While I have indeed purchased a copy, I am not one of the people who will be loving it.
What's bad about this game
Firstly, and most importantly, it's buggy as shit. Played "natively", it crashes constantly. I mean constantly. To the point of being unplayable. Natively, in this instance means using DirectX 11. If you attempt to run this game in DirectX 11, you basically can't. Which means everyone on Windows Vista or 7 has to downgrade their DirectX to play the game. Which lowers the graphics quality. According to many, many forums, this problem is effecting an awful lot of people, which makes me think the game was rushed to market with almost zero quality control. To illustrate my point, the game has been out for about a week and already has several patches. Not good.
Next, the hardware requirements are ridiculous. I run a powerful rig on Windows 7, however I simply cannot even come close to playing the game on full specs. This annoys me because the graphics are far from impressive. Even the cut scenes are unwatchably slow if the specs are set high, which also makes no sense, as they are just pre made animations, run in the same resolution regardless of other settings. This just confirms my belief that the game is badly programmed.
With each Civilizations, the diplomacy options have improved. With this release, however, they've gone back to the bare basics of the original release. This has a very detrimental effect on the game: for example, once you open borders to a neighbour, you cannot close them again without declaring all out war. You cannot see how your neighbours feel about you in detail, or why and you can basically do nothing about it, in any case.
Gameplay (intentionally filed under "what's bad about this game")
The game play itself is probably the worst Civilizations in a long time. Instead of increasing flexibility and control in the game, they've dumbed it down. So for the first time in Civilizations history, you have less options and features than in the previous release. Gone are influence gainers like sharing religions with neighbours, or having your corporations in their cities. Many other minor diplomatic effects are missing, as well.
As I mentioned above, the resource requirements on your PC are insane and clearly the result of bad programming. I suspect the original Windows 3.1 era programming is still involved because even on the lowest settings and on DirectX 9, if you select a huge map, by the time you have advanced to the modern era the game will be running like garbage and crashing semi-frequently.
Units & Combat
The next "improvement" the game makes is that now you can only have 1 unit per tile on the map. This means you cannot mass armies for defence or attack and is, quite frankly, stupid.
There are other issues I have with the units, as well. For example, if you put an air unit (like a bomber) to sleep in a city (so you don't have to tell them to do nothing every single turn) you can't wake them up again - or at least I can't figure out how to. So they become an expensive waste of resources.
Additionally, as with all Civilizations games, the unit vs unit combat can be idiotic. For example, it's still possible for a cave man with a stick to bring down a stealth bomber, thanks to the "random" effect of combat rolls. This kind of combat outcome just ruins the game completely because it's supposed to be based on realism.
The screenshot below shows a battle from the game.
The AI is simply retarded. Units such as workers, who improve tiles, when set to automatic, do completely idiotic tasks such as, without exaggeration, run to the other side of the World (about 50 turns away) and improve a random tile that's not in your land. This means you have to micro manage every single unit in the game, if you want them to be effective and means every turn, once your civilization has become large, can take a very long time.
Furthermore, the AI diplomacy is equality stupid. When you have smashed an enemy into the ground and they are on their last legs, they may come to you and offer "anything you want, for an end to the war". However, if you ask for anything *at all*, including something so small as $1, they will refuse.
The game also has many other serious quality control issues. For example, if the playing ruler is a female (i.e. Queen Elizabeth of England - a good starting choice for newbies, because England is protected by sea and thus you get some time to get used to the game before being attacked), you are constantly referred to as "King" Elizabeth by the game, because the programmers were too lazy to put the correct gender pronouns on each possible player (note: when you play as England, there are no male rulers to choose, so this shows just how lazy they were).
What's good about the game (specifically this game, not Civilizations in general)
Ok, that end's my review of Civilizations V. To be fair, I have played the game a lot and had some enjoyment. However everything I like about the game was done better in the previous version, from about 5 years ago.
If you liked Civ IV, keep playing it. It's better.